Getting It On With Soft-Core Porn: The Trials of Teen Sex in a Country Totally Bizarre About Sexuality

I was basically clueless when it came to pleasuring a real live human.

Part II in a three-part series. Read Part I here.

Like many of my teen compatriots in the 1990s, quite a few of my first sexual escapades came about because of a game. No, not "Sorry," though I sure was a lot of the time. The game was Truth or Dare. ToD gave rise to my first time kissing a girl, the first time I got naked in public, and the first time I tried and failed to give a handy in a hot tub—which was like trying to spread hummus on a chinchilla underwater.

Truth or Dare occupies a strange sexual loophole in our culture, especially for young people. It gives us permission to be sexual, without being explicit or facing stigma or rejection. It’s a game about power, control and contained recklessness. Because teens are curious about sex, but often have no parameters for exploring or even discussing it, Truth or Dare can feel like one of the few outlets available in a culture that demands women be sexy, but not sexual (see “8 Things America Gets Horribly Wrong About Sex”). I certainly had lots of questions about myself and sexuality that weren’t remotely covered in my school’s sex ed class (which was, weirdly, combined with drivers ed).

ToD allowed me to approach my curiosities and pleasure in a relatively safe context. And frankly, I needed the crutch. I couldn't just be sexual, because that would be "slutty" at best or desperate at worst. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that my attempt to lose my virginity was also prompted by the game (and let’s be honest, a lot of Smirnoff Ices).

I met Luke, a lean and dreamy soldier in the United States Air Force, at the Safehouse. Though the Safehouse sounds like a place for teen runaways, it was, in fact, a coffee shop. Luke was a tall, tattooed, Irish chainsmoker who loved to tell dirty jokes, drink and get in fights—all of which may have contributed to him getting discharged from the military eventually. But that came later.

One night at the Safehouse, as I was second-hand smoking my way through a pack of menthol cigarettes, Luke suggested we go back to my friend Donna’s house with her boyfriend to drink whiskey and watch the World Wrestling Federation. I agreed to go because I figured I would finally get a chance to try a few bodyslams of my own on Luke.

I don’t remember who suggested that we play Truth or Dare at Donna’s, but it was probably me because I am that obvious. Everyone was game, however, and soon we were daring each other to pretend to take it up the butt from a door knob “and act like you really enjoy it,” and Donna and I were mashing our faces together the way two drunk girls who’ve never kissed a girl are prone to do—sloppily and for the benefit of those not involved in the kissing. Though I would later go on to kiss a great many girls in my life, this particular kiss turned me off girl-kissing for almost two years. It wasn’t just that she tasted like a minty ashtray (I myself undoubtedly smelled like citrusy rubbing alcohol), it was just so forced and comical. She stuck her tongue out and I wrapped my mouth around it, like I was trying to swallow a cell phone.

Once we were all sufficiently drunk and humiliated—Luke drank enough Jack Daniels to sterilize a small lake—we retreated to our separate bedrooms, and to my delight, Luke came with me into the spare room. With the lights off and a creaky futon threatening to tip us onto the floor at any minute, we shared our first kiss, which was not magical, but compared to the eel show that was my prior kiss with Donna, it wasn’t so bad.

Like many teenage girls, I grew up reading countless magazines with sex advice that involved using most of the condiments in the dry-goods pantry, which taught that fellating is best done with the help of pastries, and that if I truly wanted to drive men wild, I should gently tap their balls like tiny maracas. I was basically clueless when it came to actually pleasuring a real live human. I realized this shortly after Luke and I started fooling around, but I couldn’t exactly stop mid-makeout and ask him where he thought Donna kept the barbeque sauce. And I didn’t want to be one of those girls who just lays there like a frozen ice-mummy.

With my magazine sex knowledge failing me, I turned to the only other erotic source I was familiar with: the soft-core porn on Cinemax, or Skinemax as it was sometimes fondlingly referred to. Watching Cinemax I learned about horny aliens on sex-starved planets, who looked remarkably like every other beautiful human-shaped woman, except their Spandex bikinis were always silver. Watching Cinemax was also how I learned the “move” of climbing on top of a gentleman and gyrating wildly. Which is precisely what I did to Luke the instant our clothes came off.

As I straddled him and bucked my hips like an epileptic rodeo clown, wearing nothing but a pair of bikini briefs, I heard a low-frequency rumbling emanate from his face. “That doesn’t sound like the moans I know from basic cable television,” I thought, but shrugged it off and continued my little interpretive jam dance on top of him. I added an improv move and began raking my hands across his bare chest. A few seconds later, however, he made another noise that sounded like Darth Vader jogging uphill. Because it was so dark, I couldn’t see anything and had to lean forward to investigate. I inched closer to his face, ostensibly to give him a kiss, but also to figure out why he sounded like a garbage disposal.

It was then I realized that he was, unmistakably, asleep. 

Not just asleep but snoring softly, mouth agape. His hands were still moving, however, which must have been some sort of weird motorskill malfunction due to the insane amount of whiskey he’d consumed. He wasn’t sleepwalking—he was sleep-feeling-me-up.

Once I figured this out, I slowly ceased my momentum until I came to a halt, like the saddest salad spinner. I climbed off of him and went to sleep by his side, hoping that I would wake up and it would all have been a terrible dream that neither of us would remember.

No such luck.

I slept in late, my Cine-moves having really worn me out, and when I came into the living room, my friends burst into sly smiles, which gave way to hysterical laughter. Luke seemed genuinely embarrassed, and told me as much later. I responded by doing the only rational thing I could think of: I asked him to go to junior prom with me.

Which he did, though prom would be our last date. A date that was mostly uneventful, though he managed to stay awake the entire time.

Tune in next week for Part III: where things get much gayer, drunker and threeway-er.

Anna Pulley writes about sex and queerness. Find more at annapulley.com

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